That’s it. An era ended last Saturday night. Daniel Barenboim’s final farewell concert ended with a 15-minute standing ovation. I saw musicians and audience members tear up during the ongoing applause in which Barenboim personally shook every musician’s hand.
It was a hot and humid day on Saturday, a day officially proclaimed “Daniel Barenboim Day in Chicago” by Mayor Daley. I arrived at Symphony Center around 6 o’clock to get ready for the historic (for everyone) and hectic (for staff) night. The hall looked great—I really didn’t see an empty seat—and the concert was a sensation from the first patron entering the house to the last drop of champagne. Fortunately, I did see most of the concert, albeit from different locations throughout the hall. I never expected a seat and I was happy to just be around, even inside, whether it was with a camera crew or a photographer.
There was plenty of attention from the national and international press: among many journalists there were James Oestreich from the New York Times, John von Rhein from the Chicago Tribune, and Wynne Delacoma from the Chicago Sun-Times in her last review as music critic for the paper.
The three nines over three days were majestic and sentimental and musically a very fine way to say goodbye to an orchestra and a city. I experienced the three nights from different perspectives, which was most definitely an occurrence that I will not easily forget. I saw history being made and like to think that I was partly, a very minuscule part, making it.
But the season’s done; it’s almost September again.